An arty experience, but not on the sofa

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I DREAD leaving my two-year-old alone these days. Just as I venture my way to the top of the house to put away yet more scattered toys, I hear the cry of one of the elder two – “Muummmm – come quick – she’s at it again!”

And if I don’t race down in time I know that one or the other of my prized pieces of furniture or ornaments will have had it. I am usually greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a certain culprit – who still has the audacity to grin ear to ear – armed with whatever weapon of mass destruction she has chosen that day.

Most recently it has been black felt tip pen and I am not talking about the odd mark here and there.

Oh no. Not with this child. She goes straight for the jugular and scribbles her best masterpieces all over my cream sofa.

Oh and herself, as well of course.

Body art is a new discovery for her. And despite my best efforts, and the ‘washable’ assurances from the pen manufacturers, the marks seem more and more difficult to erase. have resigned myself to the fact I will most likely have to fork out for a new sofa in the near future.

You would think by the third child we would be wised up to all the situations which children can throw at you.

We thought we had it bad with the first – when at the age of 18 months, without warning, she threw herself down in front of a bus load of American tourists in the middle of an upmarket Egyptian hotel. And all because we had used the ‘no’ word.

The fact we had used it because she was about to head through the automatic glass doors which led straight to the deep end of the outdoor swimming pool was lost on her. As far as she was concerned she was being stopped from doing something fun by her mean old parents.

The tourists looked startled as our small red-faced child flung herself prostrate at their feet but, being American, they very politely didn’t say a word and just sidled past her to the nearby winding staircase (another out of bounds area for the toddler – despite her vehement protests) as they continued on their way to dinner.

We, on the other hand, were mortified – berating ourselves as the worst parents in the world, with “What must people think of us?” type comments muttered darkly to each other. It took us days to get over the mortification.

For the rest of the holiday if we heard even the slightest American drawl we beat a hasty retreat in the opposite direction, which as you can imagine in a place like Egypt – which is teeming with tourists, especially the American variety – meant we were doubling back on ourselves most of the time.

Looking back we were extremely lucky with the first one. After all she may have flung herself on the floor in the most inconvenient of places, but she didn’t utter one single cry. Not one. I think she was just as startled as us by what she had done.

Being first-time parents we had read every book going about how to best bring up our child. This was a tantrum, we told each other, firmly believing that is exactly what we had just witnessed. How wrong we were. But we went on in our naively fully believing we were great parents as we could handle the ‘tantrum things’ and really didn’t know what all the fuss was about.

Our false sense of security lived on with the second – the dream child. I don’t even really remember him crying, that was how good a baby he was.

Then enter the third and final child. And boy, was she set to open our eyes. There is nothing easy going about this one. If she doesn’t get her own way instantly she loses it – big time. I don’t mean quietly flinging herself onto hotel floors. Oh no. I am talking about full scale riots – which I have heard people commenting about who are two streets away from her outburst. If the fire brigade ever needed a replacement siren she would be ideal.

We have tried everything we can think of to try and calm this emotional whirlwind (or should that be hurricane?) that is our youngest daughter. As my sofa seems to demonstrate an artistic streak, this weekend I have decided to see if looking at other’s people’s masterpieces – painted on canvases and NOT sofas – gives her some better inspiration. We are going to the Sheffield City Council-backed Art in The Gardens in the Botanical Gardens. I shall make doubly sure she leaves her own art materials/weapons at home and just enjoys the experience!

For informa tion on Art in the Gardens event visit: http://www.sbg.org.uk/artinthegardens.asp